From Bloomsburg to the NFL
From Central Dauphin to Bloomsburg, and now to the Indianapolis Colts… here comes Justin Shirk! On Thursday July 2nd, Shirk officially signed with a free agent contract with the Colts. Oddly enough, at the beginning of Shirks football career started with Linglestown Colts at the age of seven.
Two other teams aside from the Colts showed interest in Shirk. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots both gave him the opportunity to work out for them right after the draft. He said that the Colts came along and things went very well. Once the contract was signed, it was official.
Starting from the end of his senior football season up to today, he has had to make sure he was in great physical shape. That included being healthy, conditioned, strong, fast, and agile. He also mentioned that a positive and optimistic mental game was very important throughout the process.
The next step for Shirk is to take part in camp, which starts between July and August. Shirk mentions that his goal is to make the active roster/practice squad, which consists of 53 players. He says, “just because I signed the contract doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed a spot. I still have to go into camp and earn it. So that’s exactly what I am going to do.”
Shirk says it is an honor to be chosen by the Colts which he considers to be a prestigious franchise. He says, “they are a successful, honorable franchise that strives to be the best by doing things the right way.”
In his collegiate football career he totaled 392 tackles, 120 in his senior year alone. Throughout his four years he received numerous honors beginning with All-PSAC East Second Team his freshman year and ending with multiple honors his senior year. His senior year honors include AP Little All-American Second Team, Daktronics All-American Second Team, Daktronics Super Region 1 Defensive Player of the Year, Cliff Harris Award Finalist, Beyond Sports Network Division II National Defensive Player of the Year, Beyond Sports Network Super Region 1 Defensive Player of the Year, PSAC East Defensive Player of the Year, and All-PSAC East First Team.
Shirk says that the Bloomsburg family has continually supported him through the process. He received support from the coaches, his teammates, and alumni who all helped him remain positive and hard working. He also adds that the three former Huskies already playing in the NFL helped him keep hope that he could make it.
As his football career developed he looked up to players for various reasons. He enjoyed watching Randy Moss and Michael Vick because of how fun they were to watch. Tim Tebow and Ray Lewis are important football role models to him because they helped lead their teams the right way and how they did what it takes to become the best. He also values that they did everything the right way despite what others may think.
Now coming into the NFL with the Colts he looks forward to meeting Andrew Luck, as he is one of the main faces of the team. He also looks forward to meeting Chuck Pagano, the head coach who personally called Shirk on the day of the signing to welcome him.
“The most important thing I can say to younger athletes wanting to pursue their dreams is stay true to yourself. If you want something bad enough. Don’t wait for it to come to you. Go get it. Stay optimistic. You will experience difficult, trying times but you can’t let it get you down. Stay motivated and dedicated so you can persevere,” the former Husky said.